Thalek was utterly speechless when he heard what Manuel Amaros had just told him. Amaros killed his cell leader Cal Hudson when as far as the general public concerned; Hudson was just another casualty in the conflict between the Maquis and the Cardassians.
“I had a feeling you had some kind of secret like that,” Thalek finally said. “But why? Why did you kill your own cell leader.”
“I was part of a group tasked with making sure your kind were honoring the peace treaty,” Amaros explained, as if completely under the influence the drugs he had been administered. “At the same time, we had to make sure the Maquis didn’t do anything that would escalate into war.”
“He’s distracting you,” Moset cut in, preparing new doses of truth serum for both M’Rev and Amaros. “Another few milliliters and he’ll tell us what we need
“Fine,” Thalek snapped, raising a hand. “But first I want to know what it was that led this man to take such extreme action.”
“But why?” Moset demanded. “The Maquis are defeated and it doesn’t really matter that one of their leaders didn’t die the way we thought he did.”
In one corner of the lab, Limis slipped out of a crawlspace and crawled underneath the nearest console. She made sure her son stayed in the crawlspace as she instructed and took a quick glance at the two prisoners, looking for just the right spot to fire her phaser at the restraints holding her colleagues.
“An incident like this,” Thalek explained, “demonstrates that while Starfleet did not outwardly endorse the Maquis’ activities, it is not as ‘morally superior’ as advertised.”
“Ah, yes, diplomatic and political blackmail,” Moset said with a roll of his eyes. “I can’t begin to tell you how overrated that is.”
“I serve the state in my own way, Moset. And so do you!”
Limis then decided this moment of dissension between the two Cardassians to make her move. While still in a crouching position to avoid drawing the attention of the two guards, she aimed her phaser and fired two bursts that released the two restraints. She then dove across the deck, landing on her back and shooting both Jem’Hadar guards dead in nearly a single motion.
Both of the prisoners landed on their feet, Amaros delivering Thalek a right hook to the jaw despite his still restrained wrists while M’Rev lunged into Moset, allowing one of the hyposprays in the doctor’s hand to inject the contents into his chest. “Looks like the shoe is on the other foot, huh, Thalek?” Amaros gloated as he loosened his restraints and flung them on the floor.
“No time for victory celebrations, gentlemen,” Limis cut in, gesturing her liberated colleagues to the crawlspace hatch. “We have to get out of here. Yanith, let’s go.”
Yanith crawled back the way he came allowing his mother room to crawl in behind him. Amaros grabbed Thalek by the lapel, disruptor pistol in the other hand, and shoved him towards the hatch. M’Rev then shoved Moset in the back, coaxing him towards the hatch.
In operations, Gul Tajor monitored various panels on the central console. He then trudged up the steps to the prefect’s office, quickly gesturing Lemec to step out of his office and then looked at the operations officer’s readouts. He then tapped a few keys on the engineer’s console and found similar readouts.
“Sir,” he called to Lemec, who just entered Ops with Kelnor right behind him. “I’m picking up increased power build-ups in the laser fusion initiators. We’ve also noticed a decline in the structural integrity fields of the docking ring and central core. A reactor core overload could happen any minute.”
“I’ll dispatch engineering teams,” Lemec said while his hand was fumbling for something in his holster. “Two enemy fleets are on the way. I need you with the task force, Tajor.”
“I can be of some help,” Gul Hadar offered, stepping into Ops from one of the side entrances.
“Dispatch as many of your troops you can spare,” Lemec barked. “She’s your bounty after all.”
At the same time, Lemec was ordering every other Cardassian to their assigned ships. Kelnor was also ordering the Jem’Hadar in Ops to do the same. The Vorta then gave an approving nod for his two personal guards to leave Ops. They still looked skeptical that their Vorta could handle Lemec himself, but still obligingly stepped onto the port turbolift.
“That was rather foolish,” Lemec muttered, removing a hypospray from his weapon holster. He then jammed it in the back of Kelnor’s neck, immediately sending him to the deck. Lemec then placed a transporter tag on the unconscious Vorta’s neck. Once it was activated, Kelnor was beamed away.
Limis sauntered down a corridor, her son by her side, and M’Rev and Amaros behind them with their hostages. “Starship Nautilus
, this is Limis,” she said, tapping her combadge. She then opened her tricorder and accessed a set of coordinates recently programmed into the device. “Stand by for my signal. Beam the strike teams aboard on my command. I’m also transmitting sets of coordinates to lock on.”
The last command piqued Moset’s interest. As he was looking in Limis’s direction, M’Rev clasped both his shoulders and shoved him forward. “And what exactly are these coordinates of yours?” he wondered aloud, not expecting any answer.
“I told you that you’re little freak show was over,” Limis cryptically replied, stowing away her tricorder.
“Captain, whatever you plan to do to me?” Thalek chimed in as he and the others stopped at a control junction at the end of the corridor, “I want you to know that my family was in danger once I was caught.”
“Is that so?” Limis snapped, while fidgeting with a few circuits in the junction. “I guess I haven’t fully mastered the Cardassian concept of help.”
“No more than I have mastered the Tellarite concept of politeness,” Thalek quipped. “I did it to protect my family, just as you are here for the welfare of your son.”
“I can sympathize with your reasoning,” Limis said, keeping her focus on her work, “but for right now, you can shove it.” With one yank of a set of wires, the last phase of the plan to destroy the station was in place. The corridor shook hard, sending everyone in the area against the wall on their right.
Limis was about to tap her combadge when a phaser blast came her way. She ducked out of the way, while signaling the others to take cover. Amaros, M’Rev, and Yanith lay down cover fire at the attacking Cardassians while escorting the two hostages into an adjoining corridor. Meanwhile, Limis kept firing while keeping an eye on the junction.
In the midst of the unending firefight, Limis was tackled from the behind by Lemec. While she struggled to gather himself, Lemec gestured the rest of the troops to pursue the others. He then stood upright pointing his pistol at Limis. “If I die here, at least I’ll take you with me,” he hissed.
“Spoken like a loyal servant of the Cardassian state,” Limis countered, grabbing both his wrists and flinging him to the ground, while kicking away his weapon.
Further down the corridor, Amaros was clipped by phaser fire. M’Rev continued firing keeping the enemy soldiers at bay, while checking on his former Maquis cohort. “Leave me,” Manuel insisted.
“You’d just love for me to do that,” Goris shot back.
Goris then snorted in annoyance and wrapped Manuel’s arm around shoulder while he and Yanith were continuing to lay down cover fire, keeping a close eye on the two hostages. But almost without warning, Thalek ran towards Amaros and M’Rev and grabbed Manuel’s weapon. “What are you doing?” Goris demanded.
Thalek fired the pistol he had just grabbed, quickly dispatching the two Cardassians on both sides of the hallway. With barely a second to turn around, he took a flurry of Jem’Hadar plasma charges from behind. M’Rev and Yanith fired futilely in the direction of the two guards, who quickly took cover.
Lemec shoved Limis against the wall, tightly clutching her neck. She jammed her right knee into the Cardassian’s abdomen and delivered a right forward hook to his left jaw and a backhand hook at his right jaw, loosening his grip. Tapping her combadge, she called out, “Energize!”
In a split second, she and Lemec dematerialized, as did M’Rev, Amaros, Yanith, and Moset.
Outside the station, a Starfleet armada was in fierce combat with Jem’Hadar and Cardassian warships. Two Galaxy
-class ships were firing phasers at two Galor
-class warships, laying down cover fire for a squad of Miranda
-class ships led by the Miranda
-class USS Nautilus
. The Nautilus fired both phasers and quantum torpedoes at the Galors
and a pair Hideki
-class fighters while swerving away from squads of Jem’Hadar fighters.
In the midst of all the ship-to-ship combat, Sentok Nor was falling apart. Ships on both sides were quickly moving away from the station before it exploded in a blinding fireball.
Limis and her team materialized in a cargo bay aboard the Nautilus
. She quickly took in her surroundings and then embraced her son. Two years of not knowing whether her child was dead or alive and all the worry and fear that came with it now gave way to elation and tears of joy. She quickly composed herself, not wanting to be so emotionally vulnerable around subordinates, moving her head off Yanith’s shoulder while still stroking his hair.
Also in the cargo bay were M’Rev and Amaros, along with Bowers and Tannin. Gul Lemec had also been brought aboard, as were individuals of various races who were Moset’s experimental subjects. Medics entered the bay to attend to them while two security officers had Lemec escorted to the brig. Limis took one last look at the Cardassian she was fighting just a few short minutes ago. Lemec had the same neutral expression on his face, but their long stare was an acknowledgement of Limis’s victory.
Moset himself, however, was conspicuously absent, as were Corporals Ortega and Patal. Limis exchanged silent glances with each of her remaining officers. They all quietly the mourned loss of their colleagues, but couldn’t help but celebrate Moset’s presumed death.
Of course, for now, Limis was happy to be reunited with her son and hugged him again.